It was all smiles from Manchester United supporters when the announcement of Louis Van Gaal’s sacking went viral and there was equal elation to the news that former Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, would be taking over at Old Trafford. The Blues’ ‘Special One’ is about to turn his allegiance red and join the dark side in an attempt to repair his damaged reputation. However, will the transition be a success or has Manchester United opted for a short-term solution to a long-term problem?
Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, it’s been a tough couple of years for Manchester United who haven’t handled his absence well. After years of winning trophies, producing world class players and posing a European threat, it’s been somewhat of a shock to the young Reds, who have known nothing but overwhelming success, to see their side playing so poorly. ‘Fergie’ had created a legacy at United and it seemed David Moyes would be the best man to take over but it wasn’t to be and since the ex-Everton boss’ spell in charge, it’s been nothing but downhill from Manchester United.
Welcome Jose Mourinho; the Special One. With a 66% win ratio in the Premier League (lowered considerably after his disappointing final season in charge at Chelsea) and three league titles to his name, most people would be excited by his appointment. However, I feel it could be short-lived – as will his tenure be at Old Trafford…
Mourinho has been known to stay at clubs no longer than three years and has often been seen to be hesitant on committing his future for an amount longer than that. He can win titles, win FA Cups, win domestic trophies and pose a threat in Europe but his success is short-term and there’s been no evidence of him ever building a team of his own. There’s more to a manager than getting the best out of the best and Mourinho could be one of the most celebrated managers to have not actually shown much else other than that. His achievements with Porto were outstanding and deservedly gave him a reputation which attracted Europe’s elite. However, since ‘taking over the world,’ he’s not really been gifted with a challenge to compare.
Manchester United could be that first big test. No manager has successfully been able to deliver at Old Trafford since Fergie’s departure and disappointment has surrounded the club in recent seasons. A lack of silverware, and now exile from the Champions League competition has thwarted any further success and their FA Cup victory this season was one celebrated more with relief than anything.
There’s been little evidence of a strong team developing at Manchester United, and if it wasn’t for the heroics of their star players, Anthony Martial and David De Gea, the Red Devils could’ve been mourning a far more disappointing season. Marcus Rashford’s rise has been phenomenal but not even Louis Van Gaal can take credit for his success – as the youngster was thrown in last minute to cover for an injury suffered in a pre-match warm-up. Jesse Lingard has produced some strong performances this season too but you can’t help but feel his inclusion in the United first team wouldn’t have been possible in a squad produced under Fergie, which would have possessed much greater competition for places.
For Manchester United to revive their success of the last two decades, they need to re-invest in a long-term plan, focus their priorities on youth development and start from the beginning. De Gea, Smalling, Martial and Rashford provide a strong spine and a basis to build upon but with the Spanish keeper likely to be exiting soon, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Shaw will be a welcomed return to the squad but the depth in the Manchester United camp seems thin. There’s been little evidence to suggest Mourinho is the right man for this. He’s a trophy winner, a crowd-pleaser and a success story but he’s not a long-term plan.
Mourinho has it in his arsenal to bring silverware to United next season and that, I suspect he will do, in due course. But whether or not he is an answer to Manchester United’s problem is a whole other question which will be tested to the limit in the coming years. Will he last longer than two or three years? Can he rebuild a squad? I don’t think so.